(CN) – “‘What the [expletive deleted] does it mean [to be an] elected official?’ Former New York State Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio’s pre-sentence hearing … provided in-depth insight into Seminerio’s answer to his own question: ‘It doesn’t mean shit.'” So begins U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald’s sentencing memorandum for Seminerio, who had represented Queens in the Assembly since 1978.
The 47-page memorandum continues: “The hearing also provided insight into how incomplete Seminerio’s answer was, for it exposed how Seminerio used his office to earn over a million dollars in ‘consulting fees.'”
Seminerio pleaded guilty in June 2009 to one county of using a scheme to defraud the public of honest services. Federal prosecutors said he “accepted bribes and engaged in extortion as part of a decade-long scheme to use his office – both literally and figuratively – for personal gain and at the expense of the public trust,” Judge Buchwald wrote.
Seminerio insisted that he “is only accountable for a ‘single, isolated, criminal act’ – an ‘extremely aberrant and atypical episode’ in which defendant failed to disclose a conflict of interest. … The dichotomy between these two portraits necessitated the Fatico hearing.”
Citing the government’s first exhibit, Judge Buchwald’s colorfully written memorandum states: “In a conversation with a former colleague in the Assembly, Brian McLaughlin, Seminerio explained that after many years of watching hospital executives get rich in part as a result of his efforts in Albany, he decided: ‘Screw you, from now on … I’m a consultant.’ … Seminerio then described how he structured certain consulting arrangements in conjunction with a business partner, General Bernard Gordon Ehrlich (also a convicted felon): ‘We charge a consulting fee, he charges the consulting fee to the hospital, and I work for his consulting firm … It’s perfect, it works out nice … And we don’t have to do nothing … I mean I don’t have to do nothing.” (Parentheses in original.)
After weighing the pros and cons, Judge Buchwald decided that “the applicable advisory guidelines range, before any departures potentially to be determined at sentencing, is 135 to 168 months.”
Judge Buchwald, of New York’s Southern District Court, will sentence Seminerio on Feb. 4.